The Case for Fusion Blades

August 27, 2015 ·

As befits the "close combat" faction of the Tau empire, these are only available to the Farsight Enclaves detachment characters. They are an incredible piece of wargear that other factions WISH they had. Dream on spess mahreens. Go back to your under-costed, overly-useful drop pods!

If this doesn't make you want to try Fusion Blades, you hate fun. Also, props to whoever painted this

Fusion Blades

These are a a signature system found in the Farsight Enclaves supplement. They require you to purchase a Twin-Linked Fusion Blaster before spending a further 30 points (4 bits total, wow!) to upgrade them to Fusion Blades. Unfortunately, this is the only piece of Farsight signature gear that Riptides aren't allowed to take. (Can you imagine?) They are identical to the TL FB, but you can now use them in close combat! When you use them in close combat 1/6 of the time they will crap out on you after the phase is over, but this matters little since you'll probably be dead next turn anyways. It also grants Blind, which is awesome when your opponent eventually fails his Initiative test. You can't count on it, but it will happen eventually, just like your own weapon's power outage.

"But Tau suck in close combat!" you say. That may be true, but your opponent is thinking the exact same thing. And let's think about what it means to "suck" in close combat anyways:
The lowly Firewarrior will hit your average Space Marine just as easily as a Space Marine will. Anything lower than Weapon Skill 5 might as well be Weapon Skill 2 as far as we are concerned. Similarly, you can't ever hit better than a 3+ in close combat, so that crazy Weapon Skill 10 character might as well be weapon skill 3 for all we care, he still only hits us on a 3+.

The point I am trying to make here, is that the power gap between exceptional close combat and horrible close combat, is really not very big. Close combat is just where you can find some truly murderific weapons. When you factor in the buffs granted to an XV8 battlesuit, Fusion Blades, and a commander's boosted stats, you actually have a decent close combat fighter.

The complete package

Once you've outfitted your Fusion Blade Commander (FBC) with the essentials, here is what you have:
  • BS5, WS4, S5(8), T4, W4, I3, Sv 3+, Ld10 independent character
  • On the charge you will hit with 5 attacks, S8 AP1 Armourbane Blind
  • Your attacks occur at initiative which is very rare for weapons with this much power (see Power Fists, Melta Bombs, Thunder Hammers, etc.)
What your FBC has, that few other characters have, is a S8 weapon that strikes at initiative. Most of the weapons that your commander will actually be afraid of (S8+) will usually be striking at initiative 1, which gives him the opportunity to hit first. He can also challenge, which is very useful for bringing those powerful close combat weapons to the front, where you can hit them, and they can't LOS.
Thanks to his higher skills, he'll hit anything but WS9 on a 4 and insta-kill anything that is T4 or lower. It ignores armour saves and will cause damage to pretty much any vehicle it hits. Note: when in combat, Fusion Blades do not use the shooting profile, so it is not a Melta weapon. Therefore, it will still affect the Avatar and vehicles with Ceramite Plating. (Please don't charge an Avatar)
The weapon has a 1/6 chance of suffering a power outage and become permanently useless, but you are guaranteed one full combat phase with it. Remember, that your opponent has same odds at best of his unit being blinded by the blades (maybe worse, depending on initiatives). Whatever you do, DON'T forget to make your adversary test for Blind, even if your FBC dies in combat! As long as you hit them, they have to test at the end of the phase, and Blind will last for their entire next turn. It is situational, but you should never pass up a chance to make your opponent's life more difficult.


  1. Marker Drones. If you are using the FBC in a counter-attack role, he becomes a good candidate for Marker Drones + Drone Controller to get you some accurate, mobile markerlight support until you need to use the blades.
  2. Farsight. The FBC is better at killing vehicles, but Farsight is quicker. The two together make a great team for clearing out heavy infantry and/or any type of vehicle. It also gives you a second character for deciding which one to accept/issue challenges with.
  3. Farsight Bomb. He turns the unit from competent in close combat to downright scary. With a Target Lock, Drone Controller, and a Warscaper Drone he fits right in and brings some awesome buffs as well.
  4. Vespids. A bit unorthodox, but the unit can really move around, and has added defenses in cover. If they get into combat, their high initiative will help support the slower FBC. They also provide all the benefits of Vectored Retro-thrusters, which extends his assault range and overall movement. Deep Striking can work well if you can catch some 3+ armour in the open with a markerlight or two.
  5. Stealth Suits. This may not be possible, depending on how you read the latest FAQ on infiltrators. However, if you join them early, the Stealths can move him up the field, towards approaching enemy armour, in relative safety. This is something of a suicide attack, so it is probably a bad tactic to be relying on if the FBC is your warlord. It can be just what the doctor ordered if you can engage a Land Raider+Cargo in the midfield instead of on your doorstep.


I don't play nearly as much as I'd like to, but I have been using the Fusion Blades for a while now: pretty much as long as I've been running Farsight Enclaves (since 7th edition). I've always loved the idea so I go with it, even if I know it might not be the most efficient use of my points.
In my games, the FBC hasn't impressed my opponents because I play him pretty conservatively. I run him in my backfield, coming forward to counterattack enemy advances/armour. In general, he has had some decent success, but nothing as impressive as an Imperial Knight or Land Raider kill. Those can still happen though... His targets of choice, so far, have been Bullgryns, Chimeras, Veterans, Tomb Blades, Chaos Spawn and the like. I've found that he performs best against single models of any type, but does fine against fewer numbers as well.

The biggest thing he has ever killed is a Nemesis Dreadknight, and was only able to manage this by having another character in the combat to screen him from the challenge. Not the stuff of legends, but he is capable and adds something to our close combat phase. Finding that balance is important, and I am still searching. More regular players will find it much sooner than I.

Most recently, he took down two Chaos Spawns and wounded a Chaos Lord before getting mulched by a Power Fist. Did he die? yes, but he opened up the enemy Warlord for destruction the next turn.

I have heard of other Tau players having success using the FBC as a psychological tool. When the FBC tears their heavy vehicles to pieces, they'll remember the next time. When he Insta-kills their warlord in close combat, they'll remember. That sort of psychological scarring can be used later on to your advantage.

Thanks for Reading! I'm sorry I don't have pics of my own FBC yet. I haven't had the chance to give him a proper photo shoot. Comment if you have any glorious tales of Fusion Blades being used for the Greater Good!


M. Jared Swenson said...
August 27, 2015 at 3:12 PM  

I've always found the fusion blades overcosted, as with most FSE. The Onager Gauntlet, however, is ALWAYS and auto-include with my commander. Nice article though, very analytical.

D Serrao said...
August 30, 2015 at 1:31 PM  

I have to agree with you about all of the FSE equipment and specials being over costed. I want to give it a chance, but the 30 points is a big kick in the you know where.

TheGraveMind said...
August 31, 2015 at 6:21 PM  

The twin linked is the wasted part on a commander. If you are playing in a campaign or something where you can pick/keep the ws5 warlord trait that also might be worth it.

Anonymous said...
May 28, 2016 at 9:43 AM  

Well, i was playing a 4 way 500 points free for all today and i had my commander with iridium armour and the blades (thank you 7th edition meaning i can take both normal and FSE) and i got into combat with a knight, the knight killed the 2 crisis suits that were along for the ride but the WS 5 commander dealt 4 hits all penertrated and 1 caused it to explode, if a 50 point upgrade meant that i could kill a 370 point unit, it is worth it.

(The crazy thing even survived the overload as it scattered onto an opponent's termies)

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